Respiratory and locomotor muscle blood flow during exercise in health and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Ioannis Vogiatzis, Zafeiris Louvaris, Peter Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


We have developed an indicator-dilution method to measure muscle blood flow at rest and during exercise using the light absorbing tracer indocyanine green dye (ICG) injected as an intravenous bolus, with surface optodes placed over muscles of interest to record the ICG signal by near-infrared spectroscopy. Here we review findings for both quadriceps and intercostal muscle blood flow (measured simultaneously) in trained cyclists and in patients with COPD. During resting hyperpnoea in both athletes and patients, intercostal muscle blood
flow increased with ventilation, correlating closely and linearly with the work of breathing, with no change in quadriceps flow. During graded exercise in athletes, intercostal flow at first increased, but then began to fall approaching peak effort. Unexpectedly, in COPD, intercostal muscle blood flow during exercise fell progressively from resting values, contrasting sharply
with the response to resting hyperpnoea. During exercise at peak intensity, we found no quadriceps blood flow reduction in favour of the respiratory muscles in either athletes or patients. In COPD at peak exercise, when patients breathed 21% oxygen in helium or 100%oxygen, there was no redistribution of blood flow observed between legs and respiratory muscles in either direction. Evidence of decrease in leg blood flow and increase in respiratory muscle flow was found only when imposing expiratory flow limitation (EFL) during exercise in healthy individuals. However, because EFL caused substantial physiological derangement,
lowering arterial oxygen saturation and raising end-tidal PCO2 and heart rate, these results cannot be projected onto normal exercise.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1990-1996
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Physiology
Issue number12
Early online date29 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


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